Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $687,804)
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) will utilize Crisis Stabilization funding to create the “Peers for Peers” program. The program will employ five Certified Peer Specialists (CPSs) who earned CPS certification while incarcerated and are now successful reentrants in the community. These CPSs will provide support to 1,296 PADOC reentrants residing in Community Corrections Centers (CCCs), 570 of whom will have a mental health diagnosis. Additionally, 14 reentrants with a mental health diagnosis residing in CCCs will have the opportunity to become Certified Peer Specialists.
Primary activities of the CPSs serving reentrants include:
Providing support to reentrants. CPSs previously incarcerated in a PADOC facility have the unique lived experience of being formerly incarcerated, living with a mental illness, and successfully reentering the community. This lived experience can provide invaluable support to reentrants struggling with mental illness.
Collaborating with CCC staff to refer reentrants to services.
Assisting reentrants in accessing services. CPSs may assist with medical assistance and housing paperwork, obtaining documents such as social security cards or identification, or with obtaining appointments.
Accompanying reentrants into the community to navigate the area, use public transportation, attend appointments, obtain medication, and attend support meetings.
Operating life skills groups inside the CCCs to provide reentrants with resources and to share their own struggles with mental health to eliminate stigma.
Serving as additional support during crisis response within CCCs by identifying individuals before they reach crisis state, or by acting as an advocate and de-escalating when crisis occurs.
As a result of these activities, reentrants who receive services will have a lower recidivism rate, will receive additional services to meet mental health needs, and will be involved in fewer crisis incidents.
Two CPSs will initially be employed in the Pittsburgh and Harrisburg CCCs, with additional CPSs added in Years 2 and 3 of the project. Additional CCC locations will be determined by mental health population and availability of an on-site supervisor for the CPS.
The individuals targeted for CPS employment will be formerly incarcerated individuals who earned their CPS certification inside a PADOC facility and who have demonstrated successful reentry in the local community. Individuals targeted to receive services from these CPSs are reentrants who are either currently incarcerated and about to release, or already reside in a CCC, and have a mental health diagnosis.
Priority Consideration 1) A is being sought; information can be found on page 14 of the narrative.